Gen Z believes they “had it the hardest” when entering the workplace

And you thought Millennials were annoying but Gen Z has numerous expectations about the workplace and all that comes with it.

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Gen Z is just starting to enter the workforce. Born in 1997 and after, the oldest of the generation is 22 years old – just old enough to be starting their first post-college job. The others are working internships or hourly jobs.

Despite Gen Z’s newbie status to the working world, they sure have a lot of opinions about it – in fact, in a global survey of 3,400 Gen  Z by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated, it was discovered that a third of Gen Z respondents (32%) said they were the “hardest-working generation ever.” (That would put them ahead of the Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation – in fact, more than half (56%) of Gen Z responded that the Silent Generation was the least-hardworking generation of all time).


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Not only that, but 36% believe they “had it the hardest” when entering the working world compared to all other generations before it. This number was tied with the Silent Generation, which began entering the workforce during or just after World War II.

Despite all this hard work and suffering, Gen Z is a group that requires much flexibility from their employer – and 26% said they would work harder for a company that provided that flexibility.

When asked what they would never tolerate at work, they responded that they wouldn’t put up with being forced to work when they didn’t want to (35%); being unable to use vacation days when they want to (34%); and being made to work back-to-back shifts (30%).

Also, offices better brush up on tech: a third of Gen Z expects workplaces to provide modern technology, and 21% would not tolerate outdated workplace technology.

Live and in-person

Despite being digital natives, 75% of Gen Zers prefer their work communication in-person – unlike Millennials, who are glued to Slack and their phones. No Slackbots here – 39% of Gen Z prefer to communicate with their team in-person. And no work-from-home ghosts, either – 44% prefer to work with their team or coworkers in-person.

Barriers to success

Although 56% of Gen Z across the globe are hopeful about the future, they also know there are some things deep within them that are holding them back.

Namely, certain emotional blockages that could get in the way of workplace success, such as anxiety (34%), lack of motivation (20%), and low self-esteem (17%.)

Joyce Maroney, executive director of The Workforce Institute at Kronos, says that Gen Z will need particularly attentive managers to shepherd them through their early working years and help them succeed.

“Gen Z is bringing new expectations to the workplace, driven by their digital upbringing as well as their self-identified emotional barriers to success,” Maroney said. “They have strong feelings about how and when they want to work, especially compared to generations past. With Millennials moving into management roles, we’re entering an inflection point in the employee-manager relationship – and leaders will need to familiarize themselves with the priorities of this latest generation of workers in order to effectively manage and develop them.”


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Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.